Debt To Pay by Reed Farrel Coleman
All is quiet in Paradise, except for a spate of innocuous vandalism. Good thing, too, because Jesse Stone is preoccupied with the women in his life, both past and present. As his ex-wife, Jenn, is about to marry a Dallas real-estate tycoon, Jesse isn’t too sure his relationship with former FBI agent Diana Evans is built to last. But those concerns get put on the back burner when a major Boston crime boss is brutally murdered. Despite all evidence to the contrary, Jesse suspects it’s the work of Mr. Peepers, a psychotic assassin who has caused trouble for Jesse in the past.
Peepers has long promised revenge against the Mob, Jesse, and Suit for their roles in foiling one of his hits – and against Jenn as well. And though Jesse and Jenn have long parted ways, Jesse still feels responsible for her safety. Jesse and Diana head to Dallas for the wedding and, along with the tycoon’s security team, try to stop Peepers before the bill comes due. With Peepers toying with the authorities as to when and where he’ll strike, Jesse is up against the wall. Still, there’s a debt to pay and blood to be spilled to satisfy it. But whose blood, and just how much?
Jesse Stone and Elvis
It is one thing to write my own series. I’ve written five series characters of my own creation. It was quite something else to receive a call from my then agent and having him tell me I had been selected to take over a bestselling series written by one of America’s most beloved authors. Strange, exhilarating, and frightening don’t begin to describe it. But in taking over the Jesse Stone series from Michael Brandman who had taken the series over shortly after Bob Parker’s passing and had written three Jesse novels in the interim, I was faced with making several difficult decisions.
Chief among these was how to approach the actual writing of the series. Should I try, like Michael Brandman before me, to stick close to Bob Parker’s style, or should I take a different tack and do something new? In making this decision I spoke to three people. Christine Pepe, my editor and Bob’s editor for over twenty years. Ace Atkins, a longtime friend and colleague who writes the Spenser series. And Tom Schreck, a close writer pal and Parker devotee. Both Chris and Ace were helpful and had great insights, but speaking to them didn’t really get me any closer to making a decision about what approach to take.
It was during my conversation with Tom that the proverbial lightbulb went off and the decision was made. Tom said this, “You know, Reed, I’m a huge Elvis Presley fan.”
This was no shock to me. Tom makes no secret of his adoration for the King. He’s the type of guy who can tell you what songs Elvis sang at such and such concert on such and such date at Lake Tahoe. The question for me was, what did Tom’s love of Elvis Aron Presley have to do with Robert B. Parker and Jesse Stone?
“Yeah, Tom,” I said. “I know.”
“Well, the thing is this, I’ve seen every great Elvis impersonator there is and they are really amazing, but there are two things I can never get past. For one thing, no matter how spot on their performance, I know it’s not really Elvis. And they are trapped, because they can never do anything new or different.”
And with those words I knew I would not try to imitate Bob Parker’s writing style because his readers would always see what I was doing as, at best, a good imitation, or, at worst, as pastiche. I also refused to be limited by the past. So although I keep to the spirit of the older novels and to the spirit of the characters as written by Bob and Michael, I write the novels in my own way. Thanks, Elvis.
Reed Farrel Coleman
Called a hard-boiled poet by NPR’s Maureen Corrigan and the “noir poet laureate” in the Huffington Post, Reed Farrel Coleman is the author of novels, including the acclaimed Moe Prager series, short stories, and poetry.
He is a three-time Edgar Award nominee in three different categories—Best Novel, Best Paperback Original, Best Short Story—and a three-time recipient of the Shamus Award for Best PI Novel of the Year. He has also won the Audie, Macavity, Barry, and Anthony Awards.
A former executive vice president of Mystery Writers of America, Reed Farrel Coleman is an adjunct instructor of English at Hofstra University and a founding member of MWA University. Brooklyn born and raised, he now lives with his family in Suffolk County on Long Island.
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